Thursday, October 6, 2016

Checking in on Syracuse Plays Chess

             Anton Ninno is not a chess master. He’ll be the first to tell you that. He’ll also be the first to tell you about the power of chess. Regardless of whether you’re rich or poor, a nerd or a jock, you can enjoy a game. Regardless of your skin color or your native tongue, you speak the same language when you play chess.
            “Chess is magic,” Anton said. “It just works for some kids. I don’t know why.”
            Anton is the founder of Syracuse NY Chess Association, the winner of the top prize $2,000 grant at the most recent Salt City DISHES community dinner. Syracuse Chess aims to teach children life skills through chess clubs and tournaments.
            He was introduced to DISHES by his daughter, who mentioned that it might be a good way to get the word out about the Syracuse NY Chess Association. Anton approached the presentation with hopes of networking.
            “I was as surprised as anyone that we actually won,” he said.
            The attitude he hopes to instill in young chess players is the same; it’s more than just victory or defeat, it’s the words you share in the meantime.
            “It doesn't matter if you’re the winner or the loser,” he explained. “You do the same thing. You have the same conversation.”
            Since winning the grant, Anton and his team have been expanding their reach to local libraries and community centers around the city. They teach chess workshops and help organize tournaments. Each location has its own flavor, he explained, adding that while the program was designed for children, Syracuse Chess has managed to reach adults, too.
            When it comes down to it, for anyone he’s teaching, chess is just a game. But it’s also so much more than that. For one student who joined chess club in first grade, the game might have been a nudge toward the right path for the future, Anton pondered, explaining that the young boy got serious about school because he wanted to stay in the club.
            “Maybe chess saved his life,” Anton said.

You can find additional coverage on the Syracuse NY Chess Association here:

To learn more about Syracuse NY Chess Association, search “Syracuse NY Chess” on Facebook.

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